You know, I had a great Delusional Optimism column for the offseason half-written and just waiting on further good news for it to be deployed. After the Aggies forced LSU’s hands on Dave Aranda, the administration moved decisively to secure the team’s future, and it felt like turning over a new leaf, and the program was preparing itself to step into the future with confidence and a revitalized purpose.
LSU retained the most important coach on its staff (and indirectly maybe saved the second most important coach in Corey Raymond), and then excised the cancer of Matt Canada before it metastasized into something worse.
This was the move of a program that knew what it wanted to be. Canada’s offense wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t deliver quite what was promised, and the personality clashes with the rest of the staff seemed to be souring the entire program. Instead of hoping it got better, Orgeron wiped the slate clean, fired the OC, and looked for a confident new direction on offense, and with the program as a whole.
The confident new direction didn’t make it through the weekend.
The search for a new offensive coordinator sputtered and stalled, and instead of grabbing either an exciting up-and-comer or an established big name, LSU leaked the news last night that they were going to promote tight ends coach Steve Ensminger.
Ensminger’s a decent coach, and he did a pretty good job as the interim coordinator in 2016, but he hasn’t been a full-time OC in nearly two decades, and no one was knocking down his door to make him one. Heck, according to the active rumor mill, Ensminger didn’t even want the job. But when someone backs up the money truck to your house and offers you a promotion, you don’t say no.
Ensminger won’t be a disaster as the OC. He promises to give LSU the sustained mediocrity on that side of the ball we’ve gone accustomed to for the past decade. I expect we’ll still have an efficient offense that doesn’t turn the ball over that much but lacks excitement and big play ability, just like the year before, and the year before that. He’s also a competent professional, loyal to the school, and by all accounts, and all-around decent guy. He’s a steward, and a deflating hire for a fanbase that craves a savior.
And don’t think LSU doesn’t know this is a disappointing hire for the fanbase. They have internet connections. There’s also a reason they leaked the news during the national title game, in a fairly transparent effort to dump the news, so it would get lost in the hoopla of the big game.
Orgeron then doubled down on the coaching hire by promoting Jerry Sullivan from consultant to the passing game coordinator. Mickey Joseph will stay on as the WR coach. So, in order to help modernize the offense, Orgeron has tabbed a 73-year old vet who was LSU’s receivers coach from 1984-90.
I can't tell if this is a joke or not. https://t.co/yl5NzWGqYs— PodKATT (@valleyshook) January 9, 2018
Yeah, I don’t even know. Apparently he coached Orgeron’s kids and… yeah, let’s not even get into it. I might say something I regret. Let’s just say, it doesn’t look good. Maybe it is better than it looks.
Taken together, that’s three hires, none of which were in demand of any other school for that position. LSU failed to hire a rising star or big-name, either of which would have been acceptable to most of the fanbase. I can’t figure out the plan behind these hires besides hiring your friends.
Where there was purpose and certainty less than a week ago, now there’s confusion, and leaking unfavorable news to see how badly the natives will freak out.
The truth of the matter is that either Orgeron think Ensminger is the best guy for the job or that he made a search for a new OC and couldn’t find anyone he liked who would take the job. Neither option is all that encouraging.
But the day didn’t improve on the personnel from. Both Toby Weathersby and Kevin Toliver declared for the draft. Both are projected as mid-round picks which means that unless they are in serious financial dire straits, this is likely a poor decision for the both of them. We wish both of them well in the pros, but the odds are not stacked against a sustained career for a player taken after the second round.
From a team building standpoint, while the loss of Toliver can likely be absorbed by a impressively deep depth chart at the position (we are #DBU after all), the loss of Weathersby is a killer. LSU will go into the next season breaking in a two new starting tackles, after a year of a patchwork offensive line.
Hey, but at least Alabama didn’t win the national title last night on a pass to the top Louisiana prospect last year. Oh, damn it.
It was a bad day in nearly every way a team can have a bad day in the offseason absent an arrest or scandal. The worst thing is that it really looked like the program was headed for some good vibes in the wake of the Aranda signing, and now it seems like an instance of one step forward, two steps back.
The only solution is to get up and take two steps forward again. Yesterday was no more the death knell for LSU football than any other day. It was simply a bad day. Now, it was a really bad day, and there’s no point in denying that. But that’s just another brick in the wall.
Make tomorrow better. And the day after, and the day after. That starts with some good vibes, keeping the rest of the juniors on the team, and finishing up the signing period strong.
After all, and you knew this was coming, tomorrow is another day.